For many disabled people in the Greater Boston area, the MBTA’s The Ride service is the only means of maintaining independence in transportation. When fares for The Ride jumped 100 percent in July, while fares for T riders increased by an average of 23 percent, disability advocates were vocal in questioning the MBTA’s motives and its justification for increasing the cost of the service.
Three weeks after the fare increases went into effect, Governor Patrick’s commission on transportation for the disabled quietly issued a report that had been delayed for several months. The commission was charged with reviewing The Ride and transportation issues facing the disabled in Massachusetts, and with issuing recommendations for reform. Its final report contained several recommendations that call into question and even contradict the service changes implemented by the MBTA for The Ride.
With many questions surrounding The Ride fare increases unanswered, MuckRock submitted public records requests to the MBTA for internal documents, in hopes of uncovering the agency’s rationale behind the hikes.
Dates within the report suggest that the commission may have completed it during the public debate over the future of the MBTA, including possible fare hikes for disabled riders. MuckRock is hoping to understand how the decision was made, and why the report was withheld from the public.
The MBTA and Governor Patrick’s office have responded to four of MuckRock’s public records requests. In total, they have nearly 4,000 pages of internal memos, emails and reports relating to fare hikes on The Ride, proposed changes to The Ride and the commission report. (More details on the records requests can be found below.) But these documents come with a steep price tag -- $1,921.00, to be precise.
Your support to obtain these documents will shed light on the MBTA's justification behind sharply increasing fares for disabled riders. These documents will also uncover reasons why the Governor's 530 Commission recommendations were made public only after the MBTA's plans for fare increases and service changes had already been put into effect.
Like all government agencies, the MBTA is supposed to be transparent and subject to public scrutiny regarding its policies and services. Many questions remain unanswered regarding recent fare increases and service changes for disabled riders of the T and The Ride system. These public documents will shed light on the MBTA’s justification for these policy changes and help the public discern whether the Boston transit system and its stewards are serving ridership fairly, judiciously and to the maximum extent of its resources.